Making It Work: How to on-board a new hire who’s working from home

Helping a new employee settle in–but not in the office? Read this first.

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Make new workers feel part of the team, wherever they are

Helping a new employee settle in–but not in the office? Read this first

As businesses have switched to remote work during the pandemic, those still in hiring mode face challenges when it comes to welcoming new staff. For advice, we turned to Shelagh Levangie, a human resources and recruitment consultant with Vancouver-based Harbour West Consulting.

On-boarding employees has three main objectives, Levangie explains. “One is acquainting them with the job duties, responsibilities and all that,” she says. “Two, you need to build the working relationships that they need in order to be effective. And three is building the workplace culture and making them feel part of that team.”

Doing these things remotely means being much more deliberate, Levangie stresses. On a new employee’s first day, she suggests that their manager schedule a series of video meetings to bring them up to speed on the job and prepare them for the next few weeks. The manager should also make sure they have the devices, network access and other tools they need.

“They should know when I start, this is my week, these are the tasks I’m working on, these are the meetings I have, and that should all be set up in advance,” Levangie says. “What you’re trying to avoid is people sitting at their desk at home wondering what they’re supposed to be doing and feeling very disconnected.”

Regular check-ins by video are important, too: “You’d definitely be expecting for the first three weeks to meet with them regularly in the mornings and maybe at the end of the day.” After that, the manager could switch to sending a daily email.

To help build working relationships, book one-on-one meetings between the new hire and everyone in their unit, Levangie suggests. And because no one can swivel their chair to talk with a colleague, she notes, some organizations encourage ongoing chat via Slack or Microsoft Teams. “You’re trying to facilitate those informal communications.”

To make your new recruit feel part of the culture, consider holding a morning coffee or an afternoon happy hour on your video platform of choice. “It’s a team check-in to build a bit of morale, which I think has been really important,” Levangie says. And when you welcome someone to the team, don’t forget the little touches: “You might want to order a lunch that gets delivered to their house on the first day, or maybe a bottle of Champagne or some wine, or some workplace swag.” We like the sound of that.